Culture Mind Map

When originally developing my Culture Mind Map, I completed this activity in the first week of our EDU 604 Diversity in 21st Century Education course. On one side, I completed my mind map from my prior knowledge. I then completed our first week’s readings and built on my existing knowledge and expanded on what I felt culture was. This allowed me to quickly see all that I had to learn about culture and the impact that one’s cultural background has on students and the role it plays in each student’s academic success.

What stood out to me most from my original mind map, in comparison to the updated version after completing our Unit 1 activities, was that culture is constantly evolving and shifting based on certain situations that students or people are placed in. I think this was what stood out to me right away in this course and what has stuck with me throughout the past eight weeks. I have learned through our activities that a person’s cultural background changes based on the interactions between different people. Prior to this course, I never thought a culture changed or shifted. I thought culture was something that people were born into and that remained the same based on a family’s cultural values and beliefs. However, I learned throughout this course that a person’s culture can shift through collaborative discussions; people learn diverse perspectives, which may shift their views on something.   Through different social settings, people learn diverse perspectives or share different perspectives, causing each person to grow and change. This was something that I did not originally think about when developing my own definition of culture.

Now, after analyzing my mind map of culture from our first week of class, I started to piece together the importance of each of the attributes of culture and the role that culture plays in education. A student’s cultural background is what defines them and who they are. Without identifying someone’s cultural background, you aren’t necessarily allowing them to be themselves. It is essential as an educator to provide opportunities within the classroom to allow for each student’s culture to exist, in order for cultures to continue evolving and growing and to support students in sharing their differences and similarities in order for diverse perspectives to be heard.

Looking back over the past eight weeks of this course, I have learned the importance of developing “cultural proficiency,” in the classroom which is “acknowledging the differences among different cultural families and learning about each individual student,” (Goski, 2014). I feel this is essential to develop as an educator. As stated in the Effective Teaching Strategies for Middle School Learners (2007) article, teaching diverse students in middle school is a difficult challenge and it is important to understand how to best support your learners in order to help them succeed inside and outside of the classroom. Culture encompasses many different factors, which is clear from the mind map that I created. You cannot sum up culture in one short phrase. This is why it is critical that educators learn how to incorporate each of the elements into their classroom so that the whole child can be reached.

References

Allison, B. N., & Rehm, M. L. (2007). Effective Teaching Strategies for Middle School Learners in Multicultural, Multilingual Classrooms.          Middle School Journal, 39(2), 12–18. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=8a9f8479-6fef-4a3a-b257-5e0e49601400%40sessionmgr4005&vid=1&hid=4105

Goski, P. (April 10, 2014). Imagining Equity Literacy. Teaching Tolerance. Retrieved from

 http://www.tolerance.org/blog/imagining-equity-literacy?elq=b0d17e3485b44c4c92b12ba1da290178&elqCampaignId=248

Cultural Awareness in Literature

This past week in my “Diversity in 21st Century Education” class, I was asked to investigate a topic of my choice that was related to multicultural education.  Since I am a language arts teacher, I felt it would be beneficial to research and discover ways to use literate to promote multiculturalism.   Through my research, I quickly discovered different strategies that promote cultural awareness in literature.  I learned that educators can create opportunities for students to learn and grow from one another’s differences and similarities when teaching literacy by allowing students to analyze various texts from different cultures, to use critical-thinking skills to examine different types of literature and to work in collaborative groups.  Through collaborative discussion groups, students learn to think in different ways and begin to look at literature and the world through diverse perspectives.

This topic really opened my eyes to the different ways to infuse multiculturalism into the classroom.  Due to the growing population of diverse students within schools, it is essential for educators to find ways to create a multicultural education.  My research helped me grow as an educator and broadened my perspective on the importance of providing equal opportunities for all students.

To learn more about cultural awareness in literature, check out my investigation paper: EDU 604 Cultural Awareness in Literature

 

The Impact of Perkins

When reflecting on my experiences within my EDU 510 course, The Cognitive Science of Teaching and Learning, I have to admit that prior to beginning this course, I was very nervous about what I would be learning and how I would successfully interpret new concepts each week.  Discovering and learning about how the brain works is a very scary subject!  However, after going through each unit and the ideas that were presented, I began to understand that we weren’t necessarily focusing on the how to interpret the ways in which the brain works, we were focusing on identifying the ways to support the diverse learners within each of our learning environments through the different ways in which the brain functions within various learning environment.

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When learning about the different mental representations, I was presented with ideas on how to determine the ways in which students learn and why students learn in the different ways that they do.  I learned how important it is to tap into your students’ background knowledge and to understand what knowledge each learner is bringing to each lesson, in order to understand where to transition each of your lessons.  I also was able to understand the learning styles that best suit me as a learner through taking the Learning Styles Inventory, (Soloman & Fedler, n.d). This caused me to reflect on myself as a learner and how often I use the learning styles that best suit me in my classroom.  I feel that this  will be something that I will consistently need to reflect on and revisit as a teacher throughout my time within an educational setting and to make sure that I am scaffolding to meet each of my learner’s needs.

In reading Perkins seven principles of “Making Learning Whole,” I began to see teaching and learning in a different light.  I started to understand how to look at planning and implementing lessons from an outside perspective and how to best support all of my students.  In going through each of Perkins’ principles, I learned how to successfully plan and over-plan for a lessons’ “hard parts,” ways to allow students to dig below the surface of a lesson and discover the big picture or idea and how to transfer learned knowledge and apply it within a different setting, (Perkins, 2009).  When reflecting on experiences I have had as a teacher, where I did not successfully implement Perkins’ principles, it was interesting to see the ways in which I could improve my lessons.  For example, when developing lessons for students to “play the whole game,” it is essential to support interactive opportunities for students to expand their critical thinking skills.  I have quickly learned in my first year of teaching that by allowing students to work collaboratively with interactive lessons, it not only engages students for longer periods of time, but it also helps students see the meaning and purpose behind a lesson. Perkins emphasizes the importance of “active learning” that allows students to participate in “open-ended tasks that do not cue students about exactly what is wanted,” (Perkins, 2009).  I know that as a learner myself, I was much more successful in grasping new concepts if I was given an opportunity to participate in hands on, collaborative activities that allowed me to learn new concepts on my own.  Through reading Perkins’ principles, it forced me to reflect on myself as a learner and a teacher and allowed me to expand my knowledge on how I can successfully support the diverse learners within my classroom.

10263582-speech-bubble-with-the-word-motivation-on-white-backgroundI also really identified with Perkins last chapter on “Learn the Game of Learning.”  This chapter seemed to encompass all of Perkins ideas and the big idea behind how to best support the variety of learners within a classroom.  As I wrapped up this chapter, one quote really stood out to me, “when we micromanage the entire process for learners, they may learn the targeted content, but they are not so likely to learn how to learn,” (p. 195).  As I thought about this quote, I specifically connected it to my teaching experience with sixth graders and how quick I am to push aside a lesson that I figured was “too hard” for them or to remind them of simple directions, just to make my job easier.  I realized that if we want to prepare students to be lifelong learners and to develop intrinsic motivation on their own with topics that truly interest them, we have to allow them to sit in the “drivers seat” as Perkins mentions and give them a chance to actually learn on their own, (2009).  If we hold students’ hands for their entire lives, they will not only become reliant on their teachers, but they will also not be motivated to learn (Ash, 2012).  As a learner myself, I wasn’t actually motivated to learn until college, when I found my passion for learning and I realized that no one was going to force me to go to class or to do well on major assignments.  I had to discover this on my own at an age where I feel I should have already developed this skill.  In considering this, I will always keep Perkins in the back of my mind when developing lessons to implement into my classroom.  I will also consider ways to challenge my learners and to push them to participate in interactive lessons where they will discover things on their own.  I hope that in keeping this in mind as I continue within my educational setting, I will instill a passion for learning within my students and that my learners will find a way to intrinsically motivate themselves to want be the driver of their own education.

Seven Principles for Educators

 10 Ways to Motivate the Unmotivated Student

References

Ash, D. (2012, July, 13). EDUC 510 Unit 4 Presentation. [Video File]. Retrieved from

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4q_ldj7QciU&feature=youtu.be&safe=active

Perkins, D. (2009). Making learning whole: How seven principles of teaching can transform education. San Francisco, CA. Jossey-Bass. ISBN-13: 978-0470633717.

Soloman, B., & Fedler, R. (n.d) Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire. Retrieved from http://www.engr.ncsu.edu/learningstyles

/ilsweb.html

How Emotions Impact “The Game”

Emotions play a very important role in how students learn and the motivation that they bring to the classroom each day.  I see emotions play a large role within my educational setting.   My sixth graders come in one day with a huge smile on their face and ready to start their day.  With one block that I teach, I see a certain group of students twice a day and there will be days that an hour will go by and they will return extremely upset about something that happened outside the classroom and will refuse to work or be able to put their emotions aside.  These are the days that I find my educational setting the most frustrating!  The days where I simply cannot break down my students walls and engage them within a lesson.  Their emotions become too much for them to handle and they can’t see through to the other side.

These are also the days that I see intrinsic and extrinsic motivators come into play more often within my educational setting.  I have found through my first year of teaching, that intrinsic motivators are much more beneficial in the long run for both me as a teacher and my students.  Through developing relationships with each of the diverse learners within a classroom, it is easy to intrinsically motivate a student and engage them within a lesson of their interest.  When I provide my students with something like a menu board with various projects that they can choose from (comic strips that describe a scene, acrostic poems of each of the characters, dinner with a character, etc.), it not only attracts to the multiple learners, but it also develops critical thinking skills and extends the existing knowledge.  I can intrinsically motivate my students to engage in something that interests them.  This is a similar idea to the Introduction to Project-Based Learning lesson found on Edutopia, that focuses on “having your students create something that demonstrates what they’ve learned,” (2009).  Students are able to become truly engaged within a project and develop it on their own.  It allows the students to feel like they are in control of what they are learning, while allowing me to really assess their understanding of a concept.

Now, there are some days that intrinsic motivators really just don’t cut it and extrinsic motivators have to be brought in!  Since we have a handful of books that we have to read for our language arts curriculum, these books aren’t hand selected by all of the students.  Therefore, not every student enjoys the classroom novels and simply cannot connect with the protagonist and has no interest in completing creative assignments.  These are the times that I will have to use extrinsic motivators to motivate these students; like providing extra credit to my students who work to their best ability.  Sometimes a simple boost of encouragement will work!

motivation

I strongly feel that these motivators and emotions play a large role in Perkins discussion of “Play the Whole Game.”  It is important for students to understand the meaning behind each lesson and why they are engaging within each lesson.  By developing a purpose for each learning activity and connecting it to their lives, it will be easier for each student to understand “the whole game,” (Perkins, 2009).  As a teacher, considering the “whole game” also means preparing for the “hard parts” as Perkins discusses in Chapter 3 & 4 of Making Learning Whole.  These hard parts are the areas that students may have a difficult time grasping when learning a new concept.  Ways that you prepare for these “hard parts” are by “teaching out of town first” and activating students’ background knowledge and identifying what the students already know so that you can plan ways to build off their existing knowledge, (Perkins, 2009).  Without preparing for the “hard parts” or challenging areas of a lesson, you aren’t considering the whole picture or your whole classroom.  Planning and over-planning for each of your lessons will not only make your lesson go smoother, but it will also support each student that comes into your classroom and their understanding of a new skill or concept.  As Sheckley & Bell discussed in their article on effective strategies for teaching successful lessons; it is important to focus on what knowledge the students are bringing to the classroom, find ways to extend past the existing knowledge and connect the new learning with prior experiences in order to make the lessons meaningful (2006).

12 ways to motivate your students

Motivating students

References

Ellis, K. (2009, November). An Introduction to Project-Based Learning. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/project-based-

learning-introduction-video

Perkins, D. (2009). Making learning whole: How seven principles of teaching can transform education. San Francisco, CA. Jossey-Bass.

ISBN-13: 978-0470633717.

Sheckley, B. & Bell, S. (2006). Experience, Consciousness and Learning: Implications for Instruction. New Directions for Adult and

Continuing Learning.Retrieved from https://post.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/pid-1873260-dt-content-rid-19163203_1/courses

/EDU510.901238026230/Documents/Experience%2C%20Consicousness%2C%20and%20Learning.pdf

Learning Styles &Teaching

When considering the diverse learners that make-up a classroom, it is essential as an educator to understand the various learning styles that best suit each learner.  As a first year teacher, this has become a constant goal of mine to achieve, yet is something that I feel is consistently at arm’s length.  When considering Piaget’s theory that focuses on the importance of a classroom setting that provides students with a place for “active learning” to occur, rather than “passive learning”; Piaget enforces that teachers instill a passion for lifelong learning within students (Tran, 2012).  These ideas seem to go hand-in-hand  with the idea of cognitive science.  Within an education setting, cognitive science focuses on using information gathered from your students, to develop an idea of how your students learn best and the most ideal way to support them within the classroom.  Through understanding the various ways that students learn and how they solve various problems to develop an understanding of each concept, these ideas assist educators in understanding how to create lessons to support each learner.

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After taking a Learning Styles Inventory and seeing first hand the learning styles that best suit me, I had to do some serious reflecting on my current teaching and whether or not I strategically tailor my lessons and align them to my learning styles or if I keep in mind the variety of learners within each of my classrooms.  It was interesting to assess my own learning, since I ask my students to reflect on their own learning quite often.

Through my reflection and revisiting of past lessons, I realized that although I have certain learning styles that best support me as a learner, it is through my relationships that I have built with my students that allow me to teach to the variety of learners and their multiple intelligences.  Many of my lessons stem from students using their background knowledge to understand further concepts that also incorporate various learning styles and strategies.  This connects very strongly with the idea of analogies within cognitive science and the important role that analogies play in how humans process new information.  “Analogy is considered an important method of problem solving.  The problem solver attempts to use his or her knowledge of one problem to solve another problem about which she has very little or no information,” (Dawson & Medler, 2009).  Through the use of background knowledge and students building off what they already know, students develop deeper connections and are able to understand new concepts.

Using Student’s Background Knowledge

Building and Activating Background Knowledge

References

Dawson, M. & Medler, D. (2009, November). Analogy. Dictionary of Cognitive Science.

Retrieved from http://www.bcp.psych.ualberta.ca/~mike/Pearl_Street/Dictionary/contents/A/analogy.html

Tran, V-K. ( 2012, January). 2012 01 10 Piaget’s Developmental Theory: An Overview, part 1.

         [Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_EkfWS2Wks&feature=youtu.be&safe=active

Open Education-How Effective is it?

After learning about open education and open educational resources, what seems to be most exciting and promising to me as an educator is the idea of education being open to everyone.  This idea of education being made available to people no matter their background or experience, promotes lifelong learning for each individual at any level.  The amount of resources that students can have at their fingertips makes this all possible.  Students can locate open course ware and narrow the selection down by content, level, etc. by using websites such as Merlot or the OER commons (Western University, 2012).  By allowing students to have access to various learning tools online, educators of all fields can also utilize this open education resource as well, to collaborate with other educators across the world.  It promotes a collaborative learning community for teachers and students, as well as opportunities for formal and informal learning to occur (Bonk, 2009).  According to Curtis Bonk, “Web 2.0 technologies and learning plans push us toward the creation of personalized learning environments,” (p. 365).  This further motivates students to find a passion within their learning and to become intrinsically motivated to continue to learn, not because it is a requirement but because students are becoming invested in their learning and want to continue to learn.

As excited as I am about the idea of open education for all, the first concern that came to mind since I work primarily with students that come from low-income families, is that although these resources are made available to all students, not every student has the necessary tools to access these open educational resources.  There are many students that do not have computers at home and the only opportunity that they get to use a computer to research topics or even practice typing is at school.  Keeping this in mind, even schools do not have the ability to allow students to get online on a consistent basis.  In my school, we have two computer carts with twenty-four computers on it (when they are all working) that is shared amongst three grades.  I have been able to get my students on the computers twice this year, which was for testing.  Students that are not able to use computers on a consistent basis are at a disadvantage.  They are not as familiar with navigating through a computer to even begin to search for open educational resources.  Although the idea of an open education for all is a wonderful idea, it can’t be effective in reaching all students unless everyone has the necessary materials needed, which I feel will be the biggest challenge that open education faces.

In regards to my learning activity, the concern that I have in respect to open education is also a concern that I had when creating my activity that I wish to implement into my sixth grade classroom.  It is often a struggle that I worry about, even as we transition in education towards the new assessments that are aligned to the common core state standards.  I feel worried that although the current generation that we teach is considered “digital natives,” there are still many students, the majority at the school I teach in, that are at a disadvantage in regards to the advances in technology.  If we can’t provide opportunities for students to become familiar with the technologies available within a school environment, how will a tool like open education succeed?

Do you feel that open education is beneficial and will be effective?

Pros and Cons of Open Education

close-up-woman-hand-holding-open-book-education-concept-green-36737795

References

 Bonk, C. (2009). The World is Open. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Western University.  (2012, March 22). Democratizing Access to Knowledge: Find Out What Open Educational Resources (OER)    Have to Offer. [Audio File].  Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2IPOgl0ZE8

Classroom Environments-Which do you prefer??

Traditional teaching & learning versus online teaching & learning are different in regards to the dynamic and structure of the environment in which they are taught. A traditional classroom technique focuses on the teacher directly teaching or lecturing to a class.  “In fact, professors may feel the quality of their instruction is directly related to the quality of their lectures,” (Bates & Watson, 2008).  Students are also given the opportunity to meet face-to-face and discuss the content within a structured environment. However, the move towards more online learning is a shift in regards to the understanding of the content.  In an online learning course or technique, it is more of a “guided discovery” (pg. 40) where the students are immersed in collaborative assignments and the professor guides the students as a facilitator.  The students are responsible for their education and acquiring the knowledge on their own.  Through various online readings, podcasts, lectures, etc. the students broaden their knowledge on the content through their engagement with the course and materials.

A hybrid or “web-enhanced” learning environment encompasses the “best of both worlds” (Crawford, C. M., Smith, R. A., & Smith, M. S, 2008) by supporting a collaborative classroom where students can interact with one another face-to-face to build on cooperative skills and also allows opportunities for students to engage in online interactive activities as well (pg.136).  A hybrid classroom supports multiple skills that the diverse learners within a classroom would need to practice by allowing students to collaboratively meet to discuss various topics and further practice those skills online using the variety of resources for students to develop a professional learning community online.

When thinking about the learning activity that I plan to integrate into my classroom and the shift in the classroom dynamic that I plan to use, it seems that a hybrid classroom is the way to go and the most beneficial to students.  Through the use of a resource called Schoology, students would have the ability to have a cooperative group discussion in class about a particular reading that was done in class and use an interactive tool like this technology resource to further extend their knowledge and engage in deeper collaborative discussions online.  As many classrooms make this transition to a more web-based learning environment, students still need to further develop their social skills in order to be able to have these online discussions successfully, which is why a hybrid classroom is “the best of both worlds,” in regards to the education world and this particular learning activity.

Do you feel that all classrooms need to make the shift to a hybrid classroom?

Tips for a Hybrid Classroom

Hybrid Classroom

References

Bates, C., & Watson, M. (2008). Re-learning teaching techniques to be effective in hybrid and online courses . Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge, 13(1), 38-44.

Crawford, C. M., Smith, R. A., & Smith, M. S. (2008). Course Student Satisfaction Results:Differentiation Between Face-to-Face, Hybrid, and Online Learning Environments [Article]. CEDER Yearbook, 135-149.

Friendman, J., Hwang, T., Trinidad, T., & Kindler, B., (2014).  Schoology.  Retrieved from

https://www.schoology.com/home.php

Professional Learning Communities

Communities of Practice and Professional Learning Communities support learning for both students and educators. By allowing educators to share ideas and collaborate with each other, students’ learning is further supported. As discussed in the short video clip “Unit 3 CoP, PLC,” a CoP and PLC are the same idea, yet they are developed in various ways. These learning communities support teaching by allowing educators to come together to discuss ideas that support their students and strategies that teachers have implemented into their classrooms that have been successful. Through this collaborative sharing, educators learn from one another and support each other and their students. As discussed in “The Power of Collaboration,” prior to PLCs, teachers that had asked for help or needed assistance in their classroom were seen as weak (Adams, 2009). However, now PLCs support teachers in becoming stronger at their practice that are committed to a “shared educational vision” (Adams, 2009).

Technology further enhances PLCs and CoPs through the use of collaboration of educators around the world. These learning communities strive on teachers sharing to further support teachers and their students. “Collaborative learning, which is further extended by web 2.0 tools and social networking approaches (Gunawardena, Hermans, Sanchez, Richmond, Bohley, & Tuttle, 2009). Learning 1.0 focused more on formal and structured learning, where learning 2.0 has more of an informal approach with a focus on collaborative learning (p.5). Social networking also provides people with a way to share their ideas and interests, which helps educators form communities of practice and professional learning communities, (Huang, Yang, Yueh-Min, & Hsiao, 2010).

Currently at the school that I work in, we are a professional learning community. We meet in vertical teams and grade-level teams weekly to discuss strategies that support our students and areas that we need to improve in. We also participate in data team meetings where we discuss assessments that we have given to our students and areas or strength and weakness. I have found that through our PLC, we have quickly become a collaborative team in just a short amount of time. This is the second year that our school has been open and I really don’t see how we would have made the progress that we have without working as a collaborative group. It not only benefits our students but also each of the teachers at our school as well.

When thinking about the importance of collaborating and allowing our students to have the same opportunities to work in cooperative group discussions, I began thinking about a learning activity that I could create to support the diverse learners in my classroom. I thought that it would be beneficial to create an online webpage that my students could access in school, as well as at home. Through this webpage I could post various reading activities that would further extend what I was teaching in class. I would post various text sets that would go along with readings or novels that we are reading in class to further extend the learning and to promote informal learning. This site would also be used as a social media site for my classroom that the students could post comments/questions for the activities that we have done in class to extend the learning and to allow the students to make deeper connections. I feel that this type of learning activity would support my learners and would bridge the gap between home and school.

I would love feedback on my learning activity and wonder if my readers think this is something that would be beneficial to my students?

Welcoming the Internet into the Classroom

Modern education and online learning

References

Adams, C. (2009). The power of collaboration. Instructor, 119(1), 28-31

Bouchard, J. (2012). EDU520 Unit3 CoP, PLC [Video File].  Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Pg3cx7dW1U&feature=youtu.be

Gunawardena, C. N., Hermans, M. B., Sanchez, D., Richmond, C., Bohley, M., & Tuttle, R. (2009). A theoretical framework for building online communities of practice with social networking tools  . Educational Media International, 46(1), 3-16. doi: 10.1080/09523980802588626

Huang, J. J. S., Yang, S. J. H., Yueh-Min, H., & Hsiao, I. Y. T. (2010). Social learning networks: Build mobile learning networks based on collaborative services  . [Article]. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 13(3), 78-92.

Twitter

For my new class, we are using twitter as a resource to share ideas and collaborate with other educators around the world. Check out my twitter page @srevoir14!

National Literacy Summit

To support my “infusion of literacy” vision, take a look at the National Literacy Summit to see the importance of supporting literacy at school, as well as at home.  Having a positive learning environment, where students are supported is critical for student success.  Support from home not only assists the child, but it is essential in order for students to acquire the necessary skills at their grade levels.

http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED448284.pdf